Gaming as Youth Work
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Gaming as Youth Work

September 7, 2019

I’m part a youth worker here at Carlow regional
youth service and I spend the rest of my time as a researcher based at IT Carlow. And I conducting research into how video games
can be used to support socially isolated young people. I’ll be producing a pack, a guide which I’ll
be sharing with the National Youth Council of Ireland. Already the outcomes in our project here in Carlow regional youth service have been huge, you know we’ve got young people
that we’ve never been able to engage before engaging in and belonging and contributing
to a group. I was literally been waiting all week to come
back, like, I just wanted the week to fly past just to come back here because I had
so much fun here. I enjoyed the most being together, having
loads of people around me that like the same thing as me. So in terms of what I needed to put in place
to begin delivering this project, I began with a really a bit of a consultation and
needs analysis with young people and parents and then from there started to think about
right in order to create a space and a project that could respond to these needs. Week to week just listened to what young people
said, what was it that they wanted in the space and what kind of need would it meet. I enjoy coming to the group because, playing
solo, I guess, on the newer consoles is just lonely. In terms of the, kind of, social and emotional
learning they undergo they really learn to be in groups and cooperate with one another
they learn all kinds of communication skills. And then I think the other one thing we really
respond to in a big way is the general needs of digital youth work. So we’re in a different
age as a society now in terms of the role that tech plays in every day of our lives
and through this group we really begin to respond to some of the challenges that the digital
age brings so all of the young people here are part of a chat using a prog called discord,
always content being shared back and forth and that’s a really good way of teaching
these young people how to be responsible online, how to contribute, how to collaborate but
also how to be aware of what content is safe and what isn’t. Doing this project what I sense was that there
is a tendency to either go right games are dangerous, we’re not going to even bother
with them and there too expensive so we wont even bother trying to use them. That was kind of one attitude I had and the
other was “oh ya games are fine we’ll just leave them in the corner and that’s
that, we’ll just have that playstation running”. Whereas what I have actually found is that
by using those games to form connections with young people we can impact those that perhaps
other youth services have not been able to. The benefits of going with the group are
I learn to take breaks. When I’m game alone, its all quiet in my head
and I’m just thinking about the game but when you are gaming with other people, you’re talking
and you’re being more social and making friends. Just listen to your young people…if they’re
are talking about gaming, why are they talking about gaming? What is the need that gaming
is meeting in their life and that will guide you in terms of how to respond.

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